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Inspiring Science

From the 11 to 24 March 2013 we had our first Science Season – ‘Inspiring Science’ a series of events and activities celebrating science and scientists at British Library. The activities coincided with both Brain Awareness Week and National Science and Engineering Week.

The season brought the scientific information from our collections to life through events and activities surrounding exciting scientific ideas, research and discovery.

Highlights Included

The Neuroscience of Imagination, in partnership with UCL Encounters between Art and Science, featuring science-inspired artwork by Central Saint Martin’s MA students Our well-known TalkScience event discussing the usefulness of Open Data • Inspiring Science: Lectures for A Level students With the Learning Team and the Frances Crick Institute

On the rest of this page, you will find summaries, podcasts, videos, photos and programmes from these events and more.

We’re already looking forward to Science Season 2014, Like us on Facebook & Follow us on Twitter for more information on future events. 

Encounters between Art & Science

Our Encounters Exhibition displayed thought provoking artwork inspired by the Library and its science collections. Reflecting the cross-disciplinary nature of the British Library as an institution that spans the arts and sciences, this exhibition presented artwork created by artists on the Art and Science MA programme at Central St Martins.

Addressing all who visit, research and work here, the artistic interventions installed across our public spaces highlighted how science and art have more in common than may seem apparent. Directed by a map, visitors could navigate the public spaces to encounter these inspiring creations.

You can see more about the art works here and in this video, along with the Exhibition Guide, photos of the works in progress and from the launch night.

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Science Writing Competition

Access to Understanding’ was our first science-writing competition, in partnership with Europe PMC. The competition was for PhD students and early career post-doctoral researchers with an interest in communicating science to the public. It aimed to raise awareness of the importance of opening up the results of scientific research to make it accessible to everyone. Winning entrants were recognised at an award ceremony, where the prestigious panel chaired by Sharmila Nebhrajani spoke about why public engagement and communication of science is important. Our competition winner, Emma Pewsey had her article published by e-Life where she set a piece of cutting-edge research in context, enabling readers to understand why the research was done and its potential importance, improving our understanding of human health.

You can read the winning entries in the event programme, and see more from the night in our photo album, podcast and video.

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Ideas in the Bath? Serendipity, Chance and Science

As part of the Oral History of British Science project, funded by The Arcadia Fund, five key figures in British science and the history of science reflected on luck and chance in scientific practice and careers. They also contemplated how scientists narrate the stories of their scientific work and their lives. Speakers included Professor Dame Julia Higgins, Professor Chris Rapley, Professor Cyril Hilsum, Professor Mike Baillie and Dr Charlotte Sleigh. Over the course of the evening, guests had the opportunity to meet the Oral History of British Science team and explore the resources and interviews generated by the project.

You can watch a video of the event here.

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Inspiring Science Learning Lectures

The British Library’s learning team together with the Francis Crick Institute ran a series of lectures aimed at A Level Science students. The lectures offered young people a chance to hear from eminent scientists and ask questions, whilst getting a taste for university-style lectures and developing independent study skills. Lectures also provided students with an opportunity to hear from expert speakers about their passion for their research and to learn more about careers open to scientists.

Lecturers included high-profile scientists in the fields of Robotics, Climate Science and Cancer Biology.

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Your Creative Brain: Neuroscience of Imagination

In partnership with UCL Neuroscience, an exploration of the human brain investigating imagination and creativity from multiple angles. Performers included neuroscientists, artists, musicians, philosophers and the Blind Summit Puppeteers. Throughout the evening, topics such as, ‘what makes us creative’, ‘is there such a thing as a creative ‘type’ and ‘can we learn to be creative’ were discussed.

If you missed the night, take a look at the event programme, our video and photos from the night, and in this podcast.

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Myths and Realities 17: Addictive personality

In partnership with Academy of Social Sciences and The Economic and Social Research Council, an evening exploring addiction and personality organise by The British Library’s Social Science team. The expert panel including Professor Gerda Reith, Professor David Nutt and Professor Phil Withington, chaired by Claire Fox discussed and debated topics such as what drives addiction, biology or society and what are some the social problems caused by addictions.

Here's the programme from the event and podcast from the night.

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TalkScience@BL Open Data: What’s the use

Professor Nigel Shadbolt, University of Southampton and co-founder of the Open Data Institute, led a lively discussion exploring the potential of open data in our 20th TalkScience event. Nigel spoke about the impact of open data on innovation and improvement in science and society and explored with the audience what the key drivers and enablers for use of open data are, as well as the potential barriers that need to be overcome.

Have a look at our photos from the night and listen to the podcast.

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Full Frontal Nerdity

The finale of our Inspiring Science Season involved an evening of science, comedy and cabaret. Festival of the Spoken Nerd took on the British Library – rummaging through the collections, unearthing bizarre facts, quizzing resident experts, investigating the chemistry of books and developing performances based on our patents collection and ecology sound archive. Labs in the interval provided an opportunity for audience members to get “hands on” with the conservation science project Heritage Smells!

The programme from this event is here, along with the podcast, video and these photos.

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PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.